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California issues stage three Flex Alert, grid operator can now order rotating power outages

People do their best to conserve power during another Flex Alert

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – An Emergency Alert issued on Tuesday evening said extreme heat is straining the state's energy grid.

State officials and power companies are urging people to turn off non-essential power until 9 p.m.

California and other western states will experience the hottest part of a record-breaking heatwave on Tuesday, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom's Office.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) extended a Flex Alert on Tuesday morning to last from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., which was expanded to a stage three alert on Tuesday evening.

The ISO issued an Energy Emergency Alert 3 to be effective at 5:17 p.m. on Tuesday. The stage three alert means that the grid operator can now order rotating power outages to lower demand and stabilize the system.

The flex alert issued Tuesday morning was a stage two alert, signaling participants to bid more energy into the market and allowing the ISO to tap into emergency demand response programs.

The California Office of Emergency Services issued an emergency alert just before 6 p.m. urging the public to conserve energy now as "extreme heat is straining the state energy grid."

"The possibility of power outages is very real and immediate," said Newsom's office. "This heat wave is on track to be both the hottest and longest on record in California for September – with temperatures over the weekend reaching upwards of 110 degrees, and nights not bringing much relief."

Newsom's office encouraged California residents to follow the current Flex Alert guidelines as this major heatwave pushes the state's energy grid to the extremes.

A Flex Alert that was initially issued on Wednesday, Aug. 31, has been extended every day since, urging statewide residents to conserve power between the hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

ISO said these evening hours tend to experience the most stress from higher demand and less solar energy during the current intensifying heat.

"This is an extraordinary heat event we are experiencing, and the efforts by consumers to lean in and reduce their energy use after 4 p.m. are absolutely essential," said Elliot Mainzer, California ISO’s president and CEO.

"Over the last several days we have seen a positive impact on lowering demand because of everyone’s help, but now we need a reduction in energy use that is two or three times greater than what we’ve seen so far as this historic heat wave continues to intensify."

PG&E spokesperson Carina Corral called it the 7th day of consecutive Flex Alerts to half a million cusomers.

She called it a call to conserve.

"We are proud to say that Californians have come together these past few days to keep the lights on."

She said they have conserved between 4-9, but they need to keep doing so.

"We are just asking for a little bit more time, a little bit more patience to keep the lights on for everyone and see us through this heatwave," said Corral.

California ISO also provided the following advice:

Before 4 p.m.:

  • Pre-cool home by setting the thermostat to as low as 72 degrees
  • Use major appliances, including:
    • Washer and dryer
    • Dishwasher
    • Oven and stove for pre-cooking and preparing meals
  • Charge electric vehicles
  • Adjust blinds and drapes to cover windows

From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.:

  • Set thermostat to 78 degrees or higher, if health permits
  • Avoid using major appliances and charging electric vehicles
  • Turn off all unnecessary lights

For information on Flex Alerts, and to find more electricity conservation tips, visit

Locally, Santa Barbara County provided the following information and list of cooling centers:

In addition to community-based cooling options such as malls, movie theaters, parks, and beaches, the following locations are available to the public to seek relief from the excessive heat:


Carpinteria Community Library


Buellton Library

Buellton Senior Center


Goleta Library


Cuyama Library

Santa Maria

Santa Maria Public Library

Town Center Mall

Santa Ynez Valley

St. Mark’s-In-The-Valley Church 

If you are an individual who has a disability or other access or functional need (DAFN), and require transportation to a cooling center, contact 2-1-1 or a paratransit provider near you:

During this heatwave, Easy Lift is offering rides free of charge to/from cooling centers and other heat relief sites such as movie theaters to DAFN individuals.  No reservations required, though services are limited.  Call for availability.

For more general tips, Newsom's office provided the following information:

Tips for how to stay safe during extreme heat:  

  • If you don’t have an air conditioner, go to a shopping mall or public building for a few hours. If you must be outdoors, wear lightweight clothing and sunscreen, avoid the hottest parts of the day, and avoid strenuous activities. 
  • Sweating removes needed salt and minerals from the body. Avoid drinks with caffeine (tea, coffee, and soda) and alcohol. 
  • Never leave kids or pets in the car
  • Check on friends and family and have someone do the same for you. If you know someone who is elderly or has a health condition, check on them twice a day. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Know the symptoms of heat-related illness and be ready to help. 
  • Find cooling centers in your area by contacting your county or calling your local health department, or find one at Cooling Centers | California Governor’s Office of Emergency Management 
  • Employers who have questions or need assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424.

Article Topic Follows: Environment & Energy
California Independent System Operator
California ISO
energy preservation
flex alert
gavin newsom
governor gavin newsom
power outage
preserve energy

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